99 research outputs found

    Variation in stem mortality rates determines patterns of above-ground biomass in Amazonian forests: implications for dynamic global vegetation models

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    Understanding the processes that determine above-ground biomass (AGB) in Amazonian forests is important for predicting the sensitivity of these ecosystems to environmental change and for designing and evaluating dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs). AGB is determined by inputs from woody productivity [woody net primary productivity (NPP)] and the rate at which carbon is lost through tree mortality. Here, we test whether two direct metrics of tree mortality (the absolute rate of woody biomass loss and the rate of stem mortality) and/or woody NPP, control variation in AGB among 167 plots in intact forest across Amazonia. We then compare these relationships and the observed variation in AGB and woody NPP with the predictions of four DGVMs. The observations show that stem mortality rates, rather than absolute rates of woody biomass loss, are the most important predictor of AGB, which is consistent with the importance of stand size structure for determining spatial variation in AGB. The relationship between stem mortality rates and AGB varies among different regions of Amazonia, indicating that variation in wood density and height/diameter relationships also influences AGB. In contrast to previous findings, we find that woody NPP is not correlated with stem mortality rates and is weakly positively correlated with AGB. Across the four models, basin-wide average AGB is similar to the mean of the observations. However, the models consistently overestimate woody NPP and poorly represent the spatial patterns of both AGB and woody NPP estimated using plot data. In marked contrast to the observations, DGVMs typically show strong positive relationships between woody NPP and AGB. Resolving these differences will require incorporating forest size structure, mechanistic models of stem mortality and variation in functional composition in DGVMs

    Hyperdominance in Amazonian Forest Carbon Cycling

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    While Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, the abundance of trees is skewed strongly towards relatively few ‚Äėhyperdominant‚Äô species. In addition to their diversity, Amazonian trees are a key component of the global carbon cycle, assimilating and storing more carbon than any other ecosystem on Earth. Here we ask, using a unique data set of 530 forest plots, if the functions of storing and producing woody carbon are concentrated in a small number of tree species, whether the most abundant species also dominate carbon cycling, and whether dominant species are characterized by specific functional traits. We find that dominance of forest function is even more concentrated in a few species than is dominance of tree abundance, with only ‚Čą1% of Amazon tree species responsible for 50% of carbon storage and productivity. Although those species that contribute most to biomass and productivity are often abundant, species maximum size is also influential, while the identity and ranking of dominant species varies by function and by region

    The number of tree species on Earth

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    One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknown. Here, based on global groundsourced data, we estimate the total tree species richness at global, continental, and biome levels. Our results indicate that there are 73,000 tree species globally, among which ‚ąľ9,000 tree species are yet to be discovered. Roughly 40% of undiscovered tree species are in South America. Moreover, almost one-third of all tree species to be discovered may be rare, with very low populations and limited spatial distribution (likely in remote tropical lowlands and mountains). These findings highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes in land use and climate, which disproportionately threaten rare species and thus, global tree richness

    Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species

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    Estimates of extinction risk for Amazonian plant and animal species are rare and not often incorporated into land-use policy and conservation planning. We overlay spatial distribution models with historical and projected deforestation to show that at least 36% and up to 57% of all Amazonian tree species are likely to qualify as globally threatened under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria. If confirmed, these results would increase the number of threatened plant species on Earth by 22%. We show that the trends observed in Amazonia apply to trees throughout the tropics, and we predict thatmost of the world’s >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened. A gap analysis suggests that existing Amazonian protected areas and indigenous territories will protect viable populations of most threatened species if these areas suffer no further degradation, highlighting the key roles that protected areas, indigenous peoples, and improved governance can play in preventing large-scale extinctions in the tropics in this century

    The number of tree species on Earth.

    Get PDF
    One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknown. Here, based on global ground-sourced data, we estimate the total tree species richness at global, continental, and biome levels. Our results indicate that there are ‚ąľ73,000 tree species globally, among which ‚ąľ9,000 tree species are yet to be discovered. Roughly 40% of undiscovered tree species are in South America. Moreover, almost one-third of all tree species to be discovered may be rare, with very low populations and limited spatial distribution (likely in remote tropical lowlands and mountains). These findings highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes in land use and climate, which disproportionately threaten rare species and thus, global tree richness

    Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species

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    Mapping density, diversity and species-richness of the Amazon tree flora

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    Using 2.046 botanically-inventoried tree plots across the largest tropical forest on Earth, we mapped tree species-diversity and tree species-richness at 0.1-degree resolution, and investigated drivers for diversity and richness. Using only location, stratified by forest type, as predictor, our spatial model, to the best of our knowledge, provides the most accurate map of tree diversity in Amazonia to date, explaining approximately 70% of the tree diversity and species-richness. Large soil-forest combinations determine a significant percentage of the variation in tree species-richness and tree alpha-diversity in Amazonian forest-plots. We suggest that the size and fragmentation of these systems drive their large-scale diversity patterns and hence local diversity. A model not using location but cumulative water deficit, tree density, and temperature seasonality explains 47% of the tree species-richness in the terra-firme forest in Amazonia. Over large areas across Amazonia, residuals of this relationship are small and poorly spatially structured, suggesting that much of the residual variation may be local. The Guyana Shield area has consistently negative residuals, showing that this area has lower tree species-richness than expected by our models. We provide extensive plot meta-data, including tree density, tree alpha-diversity and tree species-richness results and gridded maps at 0.1-degree resolution

    Geographic patterns of tree dispersal modes in Amazonia and their ecological correlates

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    Aim: To investigate the geographic patterns and ecological correlates in the geographic distribution of the most common tree dispersal modes in Amazonia (endozoochory, synzoochory, anemochory and hydrochory). We examined if the proportional abundance of these dispersal modes could be explained by the availability of dispersal agents (disperser-availability hypothesis) and/or the availability of resources for constructing zoochorous fruits (resource-availability hypothesis). Time period: Tree-inventory plots established between 1934 and 2019. Major taxa studied: Trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) ‚Č•‚ÄČ9.55‚ÄČcm. Location: Amazonia, here defined as the lowland rain forests of the Amazon River basin and the Guiana Shield. Methods: We assigned dispersal modes to a total of 5433 species and morphospecies within 1877 tree-inventory plots across terra-firme, seasonally flooded, and permanently flooded forests. We investigated geographic patterns in the proportional abundance of dispersal modes. We performed an abundance-weighted mean pairwise distance (MPD) test and fit generalized linear models (GLMs) to explain the geographic distribution of dispersal modes. Results: Anemochory was significantly, positively associated with mean annual wind speed, and hydrochory was significantly higher in flooded forests. Dispersal modes did not consistently show significant associations with the availability of resources for constructing zoochorous fruits. A lower dissimilarity in dispersal modes, resulting from a higher dominance of endozoochory, occurred in terra-firme forests (excluding podzols) compared to flooded forests. Main conclusions: The disperser-availability hypothesis was well supported for abiotic dispersal modes (anemochory and hydrochory). The availability of resources for constructing zoochorous fruits seems an unlikely explanation for the distribution of dispersal modes in Amazonia. The association between frugivores and the proportional abundance of zoochory requires further research, as tree recruitment not only depends on dispersal vectors but also on conditions that favour or limit seedling recruitment across forest types

    Long-term thermal sensitivity of Earth’s tropical forests

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    The sensitivity of tropical forest carbon to climate is a key uncertainty in predicting global climate change. Although short-term drying and warming are known to affect forests, it is unknown if such effects translate into long-term responses. Here, we analyze 590 permanent plots measured across the tropics to derive the equilibrium climate controls on forest carbon. Maximum temperature is the most important predictor of aboveground biomass (‚ąí9.1 megagrams of carbon per hectare per degree Celsius), primarily by reducing woody productivity, and has a greater impact per ¬įC in the hottest forests (>32.2¬įC). Our results nevertheless reveal greater thermal resilience than observations of short-term variation imply. To realize the long-term climate adaptation potential of tropical forests requires both protecting them and stabilizing Earth‚Äôs climate
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